India's most fuel efficient 125cc scooters revealed

The thriving 125cc scooter segment is seeing a marked shift in 110cc buyers looking to upgrade to more premium models. While fuel efficiency is not exactly their USP, the ability to extract the maximum from every litre of pricey petrol also helps.

By Ajit Dalvi & Firoze Irani calendar 29 Dec 2019 Views icon300291 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Fuel efficiency and scooters go hand in hand and when it comes to tanking up with pricey petrol, which currently costs Rs 80 a litre (in Mumbai), s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g the fossil fuel to the maximum gives a particular high to the rider/owner of the two-wheeler. Over the past couple of years, the 125cc scooter sub-segment has been registering robust sales, better than the bulk  scooter segment that comprises 100cc models. In the eyes of the scooter buyer, the 125cc models are also seen as a more premium offering and are currently drawing a growing number of consumers keen on an upgrade to premiumness and a tad more power. If there's more mileage to be had, that's welcome news for the wallet.

So, even as India Auto Inc makes the shift to BS VI emission norms, we decided to shortlist the best fuel-sipping 125cc scooter models in India. To arrive at the Top 9 fuel-efficient models, we have either referred to the official fuel efficiency figures (usually ARAI-certified) claimed by the vehicle manufacturer or the fuel efficiency figure recorded by the road testers at India's premiere auto magazine: Autocar India. Some of these models have been recently launched or are BS VI upgrades of existing 125cc scooters.

So, sit back, tank up and come along for the ride of the nine most frugal 125cc scooters in the country, from No. 9 through to the KPL (kilometres per litre) king.

9) Aprilia SR 125: 41.9kpl (overall, as tested)
The sole 125cc scooter from Piaggio Vehicles India in this list, this handsome Aprilia SR 125 goes 41.9 kilometres to the litres, which essentially means 40.6kpl in the city and 43.3kpl on the highway.

The SR’s 125cc, 3-valve motor develops 9.52hp of maximum power and 9.8 Nm torque but its fuel efficiency is reduced due to its 122kg. This is a scooter that thinks it's a motorcycle and little wonder it's a hit with collegians.

8) TVS NTorq 125: 47kpl (overall, as tested)
Zero to 400,000 in less than two years. Yes, that's what the TVS NTorq, TVS Motor Co's snazzy-looking 125cc scooter launched on February 5, 2018, has recorded at the domestic two-wheeler box office. This, despite the past year being rather difficult for the entire industry. Clearly, this snazzy TVS has successfully ridden the demand curve for premium 125cc scooters in the country. The 47kpl it delivers on the mileage front is not the best in this lot of fuel-sipping scooters but it helps its target audience.

Targeted at millennials, the NTorq, which is TVS' first 125cc scooter and the production version of the Graphite concept showcased at Auto Expo 2016, is powered by a CVTi-REVV 124.79cc, single-cylinder, 4-stroke, 3-valve, air-cooled SOHC engine that develops 9.4hp at 7500rpm and 10.5 Nm at 5500rpm.

With every passing month, its contribution to TVS' overall scooter sales is growing. Between April-November 2019, the NTorq has sold all of of 191,391 units, which constitutes a monthly average of 23,923 units. As per Autocar Professional's in-house sales data, since launch 23 months ago, the NTorq has sold a total of 424,239 units while another 49,062 units have been exported. Clearly, a game-changing model for the Chennai-based manufacturer.

7) Hero Destini 125: 51kpl (claimed)
Hero MotoCorp's first product in the 125cc scooter space, the Destini 125 is the most affordable 125cc scooter in the country, for the base Lx variant. However, it does offer more than good value as it has a decent set of features, is easy to ride and, of course, comes with the Hero brand name, which means an exhaustive service network and affordable spare parts

The Destini 125 is also the first scooter in India to feature start-stop technology. The i3S (idle-start-stop) tech is similar to the one seen on Hero’s commuter motorcycles. The rider has to press the rear brake and twist the throttle for the motor to restart. The start-stop tech is more beneficial to urban users who encounter many traffic lights during their commute.

Powering the Destini is an air-cooled, single-cylinder motor rated at 8.7hp and 10.2Nm of peak torque, which delivers 51kpl. 

6) Honda Grazia 125: 51.2kpl (overall, as tested)
Honda's premium 125cc scooter, which is a funky, fun-to-ride two-wheeler, received a warm reception when it was introduced over two years ago but has somewhat not achieved its sales potential and can do better. One of its main highlights is its sharp styling and list of features such as LED headlight, an all-digital instrument cluster with eco speed indicator, multi-functional key slot and a cubby hole below the handlebar.

Powering the scooter is a 124.9cc engine producing 8.5hp at 6500rpm and 10.54Nm of torque at 5,000rpm. As per the Autocar India fuel efficiency test, the Grazia 125 returns 51.2kpl, which gives it the sixth rank on this list.

5) Suzuki Burgman Street 125: 53kpl (claimed)
Introduced in July 2018, the Suzuki Burgman Street 125 is in a niche of its own. Not big sales numbers but a strong fan following. Delivering a claimed 53 kilometres to the litre, this Suzuki is fifth on the best fuel efficiency list. It uses the same maxi-scooter styling inspired by the larger Burgman range sold in global markets. The scooter has a fully digital instrument cluster and an LED headlight.

Powering the scooter is a Suzuki Access-sourced 124.3cc motor producing 8.7hp at 7000rpm and 10.2Nm of torque at 5000rpm. Other mechanicals of the Burgman Street are also shared with its 125cc sibling. Braking hardware consists of a disc-brake unit at the front and a drum unit at the rear. With a kerb weight of 108kg, the Burgman Street weighs 7kg more than the Access 125, which weighs 101kg and fares better in comparison.

4) Honda Activa 125 BS VI: 54.2kpl (overall, as tested)
Anything that wears the Activa badge is serious business for Honda. Although the Activa 125’s sales numbers are far lower than what the 110cc sibling sells every month, it became the first BS VI-compliant model for Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India. The new Activa 125 is available in three variants Standard (Rs 67,490, Alloy (Rs 70,990) and Deluxe (Rs 74,490). This means the base variant of the BS VI Activa 125 costs an additional Rs 2,478 over the top-spec disc variant of the BS IV model that currently retails at Rs 65,012 (all prices, ex-showroom Delhi).

The 124cc BS VI engine develops 8.1hp at 6,500rpm, which is slightly lower than what the motor in the outgoing model produced (8.52hp at 6,500rpm). Unlike the current model that uses a carburetted engine, the one on the BS VI Activa is fuel-injected, which should also translate to better fuel efficiency, apart from the reduced emissions. Autocar India's recent test has registered 54.2kpl on the fuel efficiency scale, which constitutes combined urban and highway riding.

Honda says it has filed for as many as 26 patents while developing this BS VI-compliant scooter. Some new features that the scooter gets over the older model is a ‘noiseless’ starter system, digi-analogue instrumentation, and an idle start-stop system. 

 The overall capacity is not very different, at 124cc, but the motor now has a much longer stroke, and it is now fuel-injected. Beyond this, Honda has also worked towards reducing frictional losses and the weight of some parts within the engine. In the quest to achieve BS VI compliance, there has been a drop in power, from 8.63hp to 8.29hp. Torque is down too, from 10.54Nm to 10.3Nm. The Activa was never one of the faster 125cc scooters and that hasn’t changed with this one, especially when you consider that it is now 3kg heavier.

3) Yamaha Ray ZR 125 BS VI: 58kpl (claimed)
At No. 3 in the fuel-sipping scooter chart is the recently revealed BS VI Yamaha Ray ZR 125 with a claimed mileage figure of 58kpl.

The Ray ZR 125 shares the same platform as the just-launched Fascino 125 Fi and this means a new frame, motor and other components. Underneath the skin, the Ray ZR is identical to the Fascino, but what differentiates it is its youth-oriented styling.

The Ray ZR shares the same 125cc, fuel injected, air-cooled engine as in the new Fascino. It, too, produces 8.2 hp at 6,500rpm and 9.7Nm of torque at 5,000rpm. These figures are lower than the other sporty 125cc scooter in the segment, the TVS NTorq 125, but what should help the ZR stand up to it is its 99kg kerb weight.

2) Yamaha Fascino 125 BS VI: 58kpl (claimed)
Recognising the growing potential of the 125cc scooter, India Yamaha Motor recently launched the Fascino 125, marking its foray into this segment. Though the scooter bears the same name as its 110cc segment sibling, the new Fascino 125 Fi is new from the ground up – new chassis, new engine, new suspension components, new wheels, wider tyres and a lot more.

The Fascino is powered by a new 125cc, fuel-injected, air-cooled engine that develops 8.2hp at 6,500rpm and 9.7Nm at 5,000rpm. These figures are pretty much in the same power and torque range as the Honda Activa 125 BS VI, but considerably lower than other 125cc scooters from TVS, Suzuki and Aprilia. What helps the Yamaha is its low 99kg kerb weight, which could be a pointer to the scooter's high (and claimed) mileage of 58kpl.

Prices for the Fascino 125 begin at Rs 66,430 for the standard, drum brake version and go up to Rs 69,930 for the top-spec, disc brake-equipped deluxe version. These are very competitive prices and the top model is a whole Rs 4,560 less than the top-spec Activa 125, which is currently the only other BS6 125cc scooter available. 

In fact, Yamaha is so bullish on the 125cc scooter market that despite models like the Fascino 110 faring rather well in terms of sales, the manufacturer has decided that it will discontinue all existing 110cc scooter models to focus on the new 125cc scooters.

1) Suzuki Access 125: 63kpl (claimed)
Of the 13 OEMs in the overall two-wheeler market, Suzuki is the only major player to be in the black in the April-November 2019 period (492,266 / 10.41%), this when overall scooter sales are down 15.47%. The biggest contributor to this robust market performance is the Access 125, Suzuki's swashbuckling scooter, which has sold a total of 402,229 units during this period, marking near-16% growth year on year. What's more, the Access 125 has been instrumental in helping Suzuki expand its scooter market share to 11% in the first eight months of FY2020, from 8% a year ago.

The Suzuki Access 125 is powered by an 8.7hp/10.2Nm, 124cc single-cylinder engine that gives it a good balance between power and practicality, and, as it turns out, all of 63 kilometres to the litre (as claimed by Suzuki India) making it the most fuel-efficient 125cc scooter in the country.

The current BS IV model is soon to be replaced by the recently revealed BS VI-compliant Access 125 which has switched its fuelling system from a carburettor to fuel injection to meet the stringent emission norms. While the power figure remains the same at 8.7hp, torque is down by 0.2 Nm at 10 Nm. Suzuki has not yet revealed the claimed fuel efficiency figure for the BS VI model, which means for now the Access 125 still remains the fuel-sipping boss in this scooter segment. Nonetheless, the 5kpl gap with the next-placed scooter (Yamaha Fascino BS VI) is large enough for the Access 125 to continue being the fuel-sipping 125cc kpl king.

125cc scooters populate the monthly Top 10 sales chart
In what is a clear indication of the growing popularity of 125cc scooters, the monthly Top 10 scooter sales chart reveals that five models (Suzuki Access 125, TVS NTorq 125, Honda Grazia, Suzuki Burgman and the Hero Destini 125) regularly mark their presence here. Their increasing sales numbers also showcase the maturing of the Indian scooter market and also the two-wheeler consumer.

Not only is the 125cc scooter an upgrade from the average 100cc scooter and an alternative of sorts from a motorcycle but it is increasingly being seen as a statement of urban mobility.

The 125cc scooter sub-segment can be likened to the compact SUV segment in the Indian market. Both have evolved and are today key drivers of their overall market segments. 125cc scooters essentially have evolved from the run-of-the-mill 100cc product into attractive, peppy and feature-laden offerings. Not surprisingly, they are seeing a good run in the market. Expect 2020 to bring a flurry of new 125cc scooters, all green, mean and waiting to be seen. Watch this space for more.



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